Kavanaugh and Gorsuch Yearbooks

A telling contrast of two Georgetown Prep schoolmates.

As the accusations against Brett Kavanaugh started to flow, Republican defenders naturally started floating conspiracy theories that it was all a political stunt by the Democrats. The fact that the timing of the release of the first allegation, by Christine Blasey Ford, was politically convenient for delaying a vote and that Senator Dianne Feinstein held the information for so long helped feed that conspiracy theory. The natural counter-argument, though, was that no such charges emerged against Neil Gorsuch—and that Democrats were certainly motivated in that case because he was appointed to fill the vacant seat they thought rightfully belonged to Merrick Garland.

For some reason, it hit me this morning that, since both Gorsuch and Kavanaugh attended the same prep school, a politically-motivated Ford could very well have levied the same allegations against Gorsuch. Given that Gorsuch is a year younger than her and Kavanaugh two years older, though, that likely wouldn’t have been plausible.

But while checking their ages, I stumbled on a fascinating bit of sleuthing by Libby Anne, with whose credentials and background I’m unfamiliar, on a religious website with which I’m also unfamiliar, comparing the yearbook entries of Kavanaugh and Gorsuch. It’s an interesting topic because we know that Kavanaugh lied repeatedly about those entries.

Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s first nominee to the Supreme Court, who was quickly confirmed, also attended Georgetown Prep, just like Kavanaugh. In fact, the two were there at the same time: Gorsuch graduated in 1985; Kavanaugh graduated in 1983. Suddenly, I was curious.

What did Gorsuch’s yearbook look like? Was it full of the same alcohol-fueled joking as Kavanaugh’s? If Kavanaugh was just doing what every Georgetown Prep student did—an academically serious kid who also had strong friendships—it should look about the same, right?

So I looked it up. Here is Gorsuch’s yearbook entry:

President of the Yard, Student Government: English Class Representative 1, Border Council Member 2; Executive Council Member 3; Forensics 1, 2, 3 (National Champion), 4 (Vice President); International Relations Club 2 (CO-founder), 3 (Vice President), 4 (President of O.A.S.); Dramatics 2 (The Odd Couple); How to win by a landslide 3, 4; YES 4; “Lousy Spanish Student” 2, 3, 4; Facism Forever President (Founder and President) 1, 2, 3, 4; Believer in The World According to Ward; Committee to reform The Beast (President) 2, 3, 4; “The carrousel ride is over” (or is it?) 4; I am not an alkie; I never wrote a debate case!

Huh. That actually doesn’t look like Kavanaugh’s yearbook at all. Gone are the references to partying. Gone are the references to girls. Nearly entirely absent are the references to heavy drinking. “I am not an alkie” is the only reference to drinking in Gorsuch’s yearbook entry. There are no references, in his entry, to kegs or a drinking pact or drinking-induced vomiting. The politics are concerning, but the partying is absent.

Gorsuch’s entry is so different from Kavanaugh’s that it’s jarring.

Here, for comparison, is Kavanaugh’s entry:

Varsity Football 3, 4; J. V. Football 2; Freshman Football 1; Varsity Basketball 3, 4 (Captain); Frosh Basketball (Captain); J. V. Basketball (Captain); Varsity Spring Track 3; Little Hoya 3, 4*** Landon Rocks and Bowling Alley Assault — What a Night; Georgetown vs. Louisville — Who Won That Game Anyway?; Extinguisher; Summer of ’82 — Total Spins (Rehobeth 10, 9…); Orioles vs. Red Sox — Who Won, Anyway?; Keg City Club (Treasurer) — 100 Kegs or Bust; Anne Daugherty’s — I Survived the FFFFFFFourth of July; Renate Alumnius; Malibu Fan Club; Ow, Neatness 2, 3; Devil’s Triangle; Down Geezer, Easy, Spike, How ya’ doin’, Errr Ah; Rehobeth Police Fan Club (with Shorty); St. Michael’s…This is a Whack; Wendy Whitney Fan Club; Judge — Have You Boofed Yet?; Beach Week Ralph Club — Biggest Contributor; Maureen — Tainted Whack; George Hyman; Beach Week 3-107th Street; Those Prep Guys are the Biggest…; GONZAGA YOU’RE LUCKY.

Kavanaugh’s yearbook entry is filled with innuendo and references to drinking, among other things. Also absent are Gorsuch’s references to academic pursuits, clubs, and honors, despite Kavanaugh’s claim that he buckled down and focused on academics while in high school.

Of course, on some level these entries don’t just (or primarily) tell us about the individuals who wrote them. The real insight these entries give us is a window into these individuals’ friend groups. Who did they run with? Who did they form their jokes with? Gorsuch, it would seem, was a policy nerd who hung with the debate kids. Kavanaugh, in contrast, seems to have run with a crowd that partied, and partied hard.

[…]

Lots of people party in high school. There is nothing wrong with having partied in high school. Kavanaugh’s yearbook only matters because Kavanaugh has been insisting that he was a squeaky clean Boy Scout in high school in order to discredit Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation that he sexually assaulted her at a party.

Kavanaugh’s yearbook would suggest that he wasn’t the academically focused service project driven Boy Scout during high school that he’s claiming he was to discredit Ford’s allegations.

Note: I did a bit of cleanup of her entry for the sake of this post. Most notably, hers includes photographic images of both yearbook entries and then repeats them in text form. I’ve found other images of Gorsuch’s yearbook entry, in various places and taken from various angles, that confirm that hers is legitimate.

This contrast is striking, indeed. It confirms not only that Kavanaugh was the party animal that all accounts of his high school and college associates have said he was—and that he, shockingly, started denying with that Fox News interview just ahead of Thursday’s hearing—but it demonstrates how much of an outlier he and his circle were. The fictionalized account of those days by Mark Judge of “Bart O’Kavanaugh” is much closer to the truth than the fictionalized account of “Brett Kavanaugh” presented under oath by Brett Kavanaugh.

Again, I don’t much care that Kavanaugh was a teenage douchnozzle. I do care that 53-year-old Kavanaugh is both a serial perjurer and seemingly completely unrepentant for the sins of his past.

FILED UNDER: Supreme Court
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. I do care that 53-year-old Kavanaugh is both a serial perjurer and seemingly completely unrepentant for the sins of his past.

    And based on his behavior on Thursday a highly charged partisan who seems more interested in mimicking the demeanor of Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, and Donald Trump than the nuanced temperament of a Justice of the Supreme Court.

    58
  2. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Liz Mair made an interesting point yesterday: she’s getting tired of judicial appointees with “political hackery” backgrounds. Where are the appointments of people with backgrounds in other kinds of law and no political involvement at all? We’re a large country. There must be lots of them.

    And how about a post on the not-so-secret work of the Federalist Society?

    29
  3. Gustopher says:

    I wonder if Neil Gorsuch is sitting at home, waiting for the new term to start, watching the hearings, and thinking “oh, god, not that Kavanaugh asshole… not for the next 30 years”

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  4. george says:

    Again, I don’t much care that Kavanaugh was a teenage douchnozzle. I do care that 53-year-old Kavanaugh is both a serial perjurer and seemingly completely unrepentant for the sins of his past.

    This covers it perfectly. Most of us make some pretty bad decisions in our youth, some far worse than anything Kavanaugh is accused of doing (murder for instance). I don’t think that should be held forever against someone who has repented and changed their ways, though it may well mean not trusting someone with some responsibilities.

    Kavanaugh clearly hasn’t repented – he’s lying under oath about it. Whether he’s changed his ways or not is an open question, though I guess the presumption of innocence applies there until evidence of his committing rape as an adult comes forward.

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  5. Michael Reynolds says:

    @george:
    I agree. As I’ve said many times I am a big fan of forgiveness having needed so much of it. But there is no redemption without confession and contrition. You want us to forgive you for your assholery? You have to admit said assholery.

    21
  6. James Pearce says:

    I don’t much care that Kavanaugh was a teenage douchnozzle. I do care that 53-year-old Kavanaugh is both a serial perjurer and seemingly completely unrepentant for the sins of his past.

    I just care that he’s going to be a partisan right-wing judge.

    11
  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    but it demonstrates how much of an outlier he and his circle were.

    it is possible that gorsuch and his circle were the outlier. they certainly would have been at my public school and from what my friends going to prep schools had to say, at their schools too. of course, that was the early to mid 70s and was probably more than a bit different than the 80s. or maybe not.

    6
  8. MarkedMan says:

    @James Pearce: back to that persona again?

    10
  9. Lounsbury says:

    @Doug Mataconis: This is key. It is the current temperment.

    Useful the comparison the two profiles and yearbooks

    Aside from a turn to Republican-party-as-Bolshevism there’s not a good reason to push a nominee with such poor temperment. Gorsuch seems to be the profile of what proper Conservatives would like in a high court justice, a sober conservative mind and demeanor.

    Kavanaugh is right-wing Bolshevism, hard-drinking party apparatchik.

    11
  10. Gary Stern says:

    1. I voted for Trump
    2. In the midterms I will only vote for (R)’s
    3. I would’ve liked to see Kavanaugh confirmed
    EXCEPT-
    a. Dr. Ford’s testimony rings 100% true.
    b. Judge Kavanaugh’s explanation of “Devil’s triangle” and “Boof” and “Renate Alumnus” are blatant lies. (Perjury?)
    c. I believe Kavanaugh is 99.99% the virgin boy scout he claims to be. However, when he’s had too many beers, there’s that pesky 0.01% when he loses control of his composure and inhibitions.

    14
  11. Bill says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I agree. As I’ve said many times I am a big fan of forgiveness having needed so much of it. But there is no redemption without confession and contrition. You want us to forgive you for your assholery? You have to admit said assholery.

    And not wait too long to admit it. Ask Pete Rose.

    11
  12. Gustopher says:

    @Bill: I don’t know… you can change, become a better person, and put the rest behind you until it rears its ugly head.

    I don’t think anyone really needs to go on an apology tour, except in the worst cases, and even then, an apology probably isn’t enough. And when does one know that they have become a better enough person that they can meaningfully apologize and mean it?

    But, when your crappy past behavior does rear its ugly head, you have to own up to it, apologize if you haven’t, and accept the consequences.

    The consequences don’t go away just because you don’t do that crap anymore, whether you are contrite or not. There’s no magic reset button.

    We’re you a boorish ass in high school? Embarrassment is the consequence. And if you are going for a Supreme Court nomination, it might be on tv.

    Did you attempt to rape someone? Well, that’s going to have a lot more consequences.

    Did you hang out with people who did attempt to rape someone, and never said anything at the time or afterwards because you were a weak person who desperately sought their approval? Well, then you might not get on the Supreme Court if there is a case of mistaken identity… maybe don’t hang out with rapists. (Not that I believe the mistaken identity defense they tried)

    I am shocked — genuinely shocked — that Kavanaugh was not able to come up with even an unconvincing facade of character and integrity.

    10
  13. Kathy says:

    I’m sure El Cheeto, and a fair number of Republicans, want Kavanaugh in precisely because he’s partisan. He’ll rule according to the outcome the GOP wants, and rationalize the law to make it fit.

    10
  14. Jon K says:

    Interesting comparison, although I do find it odd that you did not see fit to mention the curious entry in Goresuch’s yearbook in which he describes himself as the “Fascism Forever Founder and President.” Was that honor part of his being a “policy nerd,” as you describe him?

    1
  15. Elise Kay says:

    This is a job interview, not a court prosecution. Why choose a person for a job when such a choice will now taint the reputation of the highest court in the land for decades? Look at the effect the presence of Thomas has on the image of the highest Court in the land! He is not respected as a juror. Anita Hill is still a story. His story never goes away. He never speaks and is seen as only an echo for Scalia in the past. Kavanaugh has also shown himself to be an angry political partisan. Whether or not he has committed sexual assault, all of the questions surrounding this man will taint the reputation of the United States Supreme Court for decades. Every vote and any opinion he writes will be second guessed in the light of his partisan politics and his possibly questionable morality and sobriety. The United States Supreme Court is more important than any one man. It is no tragedy that one man doesn’t get his dream job, if it means tainting the highest court in the land.

    10
  16. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    The big difference that I see was that Gorsuch was what a decade or so earlier was termed a “dweeb” while Kavanaugh was a “jock” through and through. Even today, those 2 “lifestyle choices” make a world of difference in who you know and what you do.

    4
  17. James Pearce says:
  18. James Joyner says:

    @Jon K: That was litigated during his confirmation hearing. There was no such club. It was a self-deprecating joke about his conservative beliefs.

    7
  19. Steve V says:

    @Gary Stern: that’s exactly it.

    There was a twitter thread yesterday where all these women gratefully acknowledged the kind deeds of men who did not take advantage of them when they were drunk. These wonderful men took the women home, tucked them in bed and slept on the couch. Brett Kavanaugh has probably been that guy a dozen times or more. But what happened with Ford, as “unlike him” it may have been, has to be acknowledged and forgiveness sought (assuming he did it, which I tend to believe). It isn’t rocket science. Many men with less of a “pedigree” than Kavanaugh have done it.

    2
  20. Lounsbury says:

    @Jon K: One need not have followed any process to see that as an obvious high school joke. I do recall that I was part of (as per the school joke clubs) International Revolutionary Marxist something or other, which was a mere joke among myself and close friends as our group of conservative friends were ‘not quite as conservative’ (as in reactionary) as some others, but it was a pure joke, not actual little marxists- high school joke clubs are easy enough to read in context with the over-the-top names.

    @One American: No doubt he would feel badly, but of course that is not at all the subject on hand unless one is willfully self-deceiving or a liar.

    4
  21. grumpy realist says:

    @One American: Well, if I were in line for a position, I certainly wouldn’t act like “how dare you question me on my background you miserable plebe?!”

    Look–the guy was a heavy drinker throughout high school and college. That has been agreed to by witnesses. And he can’t even admit THAT.

    It’s not so much what Kavenaugh did back then as the fact that he’s lying about it now.

    7
  22. Matt says:

    @One American: I would admit that I drank and sometimes drank a lot. I wouldn’t make bold faced lies about what several words mean and everything else he lied about. Then again I wouldn’t of been in the position to even be accused as I wasn’t an entitled asshole that thought that having money meant I could do anything I wanted and get away with it when I was in High School.

    I definitely wouldn’t of gotten all emotional while shouting out conspiracy theories. I would at least pretend to have some degree of judicial temperament and not act like an outright partisan hack.

    IF the whole supreme court thing doesn’t work out he could always take up talk radio or sub in for Alex Jones….